I disagree with what other people have said here. I found Prof Carlebach's lectures to be a solid 'meh'. The earlier lectures were interesting, but only got drier as the semester progressed. The amount of reading was manageable, but varied significantly in relevance and interest. The discussion sections were awkward and quiet. The grading of the exams and papers was pretty harsh, especially for a global core. Not to say global cores should be easy, but this class was less accessible to non-history students than it could have been. For the midterm and final (non-cumulative) we had 25-30 readings and a dozen or so primary sources we were responsible for. Each exam was 8 questions of which we chose 7. For every point made in each short answer question (ie. every fact, person, event mentioned) we had to cite both the reading and the author it came from. Memorizing the names of each reading, their authors, and the relevant facts from each (rather than just learning the actual material) made studying for these exams way more tedious than necessary, while contributing nothing to what you might actually be learning. Also, doing all this will not guarantee a decent grade, only that you don't fail. Overall this is a fine course to take if you really need to fill a 4-credit global core requirement, or you are genuinely interested in the material. Many people clearly enjoyed the class. However, the ratio of workload to amount learned is pretty bad. You could learn most of the material from the course during an afternoon's Wikipedia binge. If you are planning to take this course and want to buy the books (required and exorbitantly expensive) hmu @ 646-753-2448
Professor Carlebach is the best professor I have had at Columbia, hands down. She is incredibly knowledgeable about her field and extremely clear in her lectures. She is also always available to students who need to speak with her. Her class is very interesting, which made coming to lecture quite a pleasure. The readings supplement the lecture materials. The Midterm and Final exam were both fair and Professor Carlebach is encouraging during them, quite maternal. Medieval Jewish Cultures is an amazing course for anyone interested in history, Judaism, or both. Though Professor Carlebach is an observant Jew, this does not affect the content of her lectures, as she is very neutral. Do yourself the favor and take this class! You won't regret it!
Not only is professor Carlebach an amazing lecturer, she is also incredibly gracious. This has not been my experience with many of my other Columbia professors. She also genuinely takes an interest in her students. Not only did she organize an amazing trip to the Met, she also regave her tour for those students who came late to the 10 am Met visit. Professor Carlebach is also incredibly open to hearing students thoughts on their own projects and is overall very approachable. Her students clearly find her inspiring and there is a sense of community among the students that I have not experienced in any other Columbia class. She really is a rare treasure and had I not had such a hectic schedule this semester, I would have taken another class with her. And I know I am not the only one! My only complaint was that she did not post her lectures online.
I’m a senior majoring in biology, and never until now have I wanted to write a review of a professor. Professor Carlebach’s class was by far the best I have ever taken at Columbia and it has made me regret, at multiple times, not majoring in history. She teaches the class with such passion, and lectures like she’s telling a fascinating story. Medieval Jewish studies is not just about the Jews; it’s about the different societies they live in and the people they interact with. (It’s a history class, not a religion class, so you definitely don’t have to be Jewish to do well). Professor Carlebach keeps her lectures anything but boring by frequently incorporating art and other primary sources to help demonstrate the culture of the time periods. Similarly, many of the readings for homework are primary sources as well. Though one can get by only partially doing the readings, Professor Carlebach assigns a very manageable amount compared to other global cores, and I never missed the readings because they were that relevant and interesting. Professor Carlebach is such a sweet woman and she has no desire to make this class stressful. Her exams are very fair; they consist of about 8-10 broad questions (1 you can skip) that you provide about a page written response to. The final paper was really flexible; we were allowed to choose any primary source from the time periods we learned about and write about that subject matter in more detail. I had a lot of fun writing it because I could pick something that interested me. Take this class! Not only is it a very low-stress global core, but having Professor Carlebach is a huge treat!
If you have the opportunity to take this class, absolutely do. Professor Carlebach is an absolute rockstar. Her classes are super fun, even at early 9:00 AM, and she is always there to make time for her students for revising papers and just talking. The workload is not bad, and very manageable as she will have sometimes more than one study session for the final exams to make sure everyone does well. She is literally just the bomb.
I took Print and Society of the Early Modern Period with Professor Carlebach. In short, she is absolutely wonderful. At most, there will be 60-70 pages of reading a week, and usually there is about 40 pages of very interesting and quick reading.The class itself is really interesting and professor Carlebach has a very engaging teaching style, always armed with fun slides and illustrations. There is a midterm, a 12-15 page paper, and a final, all of which are manageable if you keep up with the reading. If you can, do take this class. It's really a great time.